What Is A Resume?

What Is a Resume?

Let’s start by defining what a resume is and is not. A resume is a unique form of written communication designed to quickly gain the attention of the hiring executive, inform them about you, sell you as a qualified candidate, and differentiate you from other job seekers. You have complete control of the appearance and content, and you should feel comfortable about how it represents you.

You are not writing an autobiography! Many job seekers put too much historical information into a resume. It’s easy to do. You start writing and remembering and all of a sudden you have a resume that is a blizzard of words. Hiring executives simply will not read resumes like that. It’s too much work. A resume must be informative, but it is really a marketing piece. It must be easy on the eyes and have adequate white space. The job market can be tough enough; don’t create a self-inflicted obstacle by having a poorly formatted and poorly written resume.

Occasionally, job seekers will use personal pronouns (“I”, “we”) in their resumes. Don’t do this. Although there are some differences of opinion by commentators, it is the prevailing view that a resume should not contain personal pronouns. Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?

When you write your resume, the rules of proper sentence structure and punctuation are relaxed. However, it is essential that you convey complete thoughts with good use of action verbs.

What the Pros Say:

As a resume writer, what is your definition of a resume?

A resume is a sales pitch, a marketing document, part of a strategic multimedia communication plan, and a brand messaging piece rolled into one that defines a person’s unique brand distinguishing it from competitors’ through a strategic combination of visual (format, color and word placement), verbal (keywords and power phrases) and emotional attributes (qualitative soft skills and quantitative successes).

James Moore

A resume is a marketing document that is targeted toward a specific audience and presents enough features and benefits to tell the reader that the candidate is a solution to a hiring problem. It is not an obituary of one’s career!

James Moore

Time Is of the Essence

Most hiring executives generally spend between five and twenty seconds when first looking at a resume. So, assume yours will not have much time to make an impression. If you’re perceived as valuable to the company, you’re in! If not, you’re out! An employer must be able to quickly determine your potential value.

How can you make the most of those precious seconds? Showcase your most impactful qualifications and accomplishments on the upper half of the first page of your resume. The title of your resume, branding words/phrases/statement, the first sentence of your summary, and the first bullet point or two of your first showcase section create the biggest impact. By then, time’s up! (More on showcase sections in a moment.) If these grab the interest of the employer, you get the next few seconds and perhaps more. This is another reason to use the word cloud technique—keywords and phrases will appear on your resume and “speak” to the hiring executive. Use this technique to capture any buzzwords that employer uses. Titling, branding, and a showcase resume have become important and popular for their ability to keep your resume in the executive’s hands even longer. Once you have created initial interest, then the hiring executive will generally look at your current/previous employer, your position/function, length of employment, and successes.

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Impactful Resumes

During a job search, having an impactful resume is imperative. It sells your abilities, accomplishments, professional abilities, and establishes the match between you and the open position. Properly written and creatively presented, it will differentiate you from other job seekers and create a positive mental impression of you in the mind of the HR recruiter or hiring executive.

Do Job Seekers Need a Resume AND a LinkedIn Profile?

With the worldwide acceptance of LinkedIn, many job seekers ask whether there is still a need for a traditional resume. Has the LinkedIn profile replaced it? The simple answer is no. You must still have a well-written resume in your job-search arsenal. A LinkedIn profile does not replace your need for a resume.

Some writers have pushed the notion that a LinkedIn profile has made the traditional resume obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understand that each serves separate and distinct roles in a job search.

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Purpose of a LinkedIn Profile. Discoverability and Confirmation of Information. Your LinkedIn profile is your ever-present online resume. It is your digital presence and footprint. When complete, optimized, and compelling, its function is to get you noticed and discovered by a hiring executive or recruiter. It also functions to confirm and supplement information about your professional background. However, it has limitations. A LinkedIn profile is a one-size-fits-all template. Although the content differs from person to person, the format remains the same. LinkedIn has features that allow for customization such as attaching media, links, Slideshare presentations, and so on. This can heighten the interest of a hiring executive or HR recruiter, if they should take the time to look at them. This is all good. But the purpose is to get you noticed and create interest; the resume has a different function.

The Tactical Uses of a Resume. A resume is a completely customizable document. It can, and should be, tailored to specific positions and for particular companies. It allows you to present yourself in a creative way apart from the format limitations of a LinkedIn profile. You can create your resume to showcase your achievements, skills, knowledge, and competencies that appeals to one hiring executive offering one position. When done properly, a customized resume can be used more easily by the hiring executive as a guide for the interview. This is a tactical advantage. Your customized resume plays to your strengths because you designed the format and strategically placed the information to differentiate you from other job seekers. You should feel comfortable about how it represents you.

Resumes Still Required. Most employers, either by direct request of the hiring executive or through the HR department, still require job seekers to submit resumes, via online applications or by email, as a required and accepted business practice. If resumes are passé, why are they still a requirement in the application and interview process? The truth is they are not passé. This is not to say that there could be pockets in some industries that are moving away from using resumes. However, for the majority of industries, and for most positions within those industries, the need for a well-written resume lives on.

What the Pros Say:

Do you still need a resume if you have a LinkedIn profile?

The resume is not dead and never will be. When LinkedIn first became relevant in the job market, employers would receive a resume and then seek to verify and clarify details by going to LinkedIn as part of the vetting process. Things have shifted somewhat. This still happens, but more frequently now we find the employer seeking out candidates using LinkedIn first. So, the employer’s first introduction to the candidate is their LinkedIn profile. If they like what they see they will contact the candidate and ask to see a resume before inviting them for an interview. The order has changed, but both are still highly essential.

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